Fantastic article in the Washington Post by Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities and a former president of Cornell University and the University of Iowa. When we talk about the value of college, it’s easy to compare schools based on metrics (graduation rates, student earnings, default rates, etc.) and forget that it’s the effort from individual students that makes the difference. Excerpt:
Unlike a car, college requires the “buyer” to do most of the work to obtain its value. The value of a degree depends more on the student’s input than on the college’s curriculum. I know this because I have seen excellent students get great educations at average colleges, and unmotivated students get poor educations at excellent colleges. And I have taught classes which my students made great through their efforts, and classes which my students made average or worse through their lack of effort. Though I would like to think I made a real contribution to student learning, my role was not the sole or even determining factor in the value of those courses to my students.
Read the whole thing–the ending is particularly good.